“Christians are made, not born,” said Tertullian, an early Christian scholar. Following Jesus isn’t something that comes naturally, and not without time and training.
Our journey as Christians begins in Holy Baptism. Just as Jesus’ ministry began with his baptism in the Jordan, our ministry as Jesus’ disciples also begins with our baptism. Whenever we baptize anyone, we are fulfilling Jesus’ command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).
When we are baptized, our lives are caught up in a powerful sign of what it means to live and die as a Christian. The New Testament is full of images of the meaning of baptism … cleansing, birth, refreshment, life, and death … which are not simply individual experiences. Being a disciple means being adopted into a new family. And it is this new family of God, with each member witnessing to us, that teaches us and shows us how to grow up into Christ’s disciples.
Confirmation is a part of the larger baptismal process of making disciples. In confirmation, we remember our baptism, renew our covenant with God, and recall God’s covenant with us. Confirmation is not only an opportunity for us to “confirm” our commitment to God and the church, but it is also a time for God and the church to publicly and visibly “confirm” a confirmand’s commitment to us. (Above excerpted from Making Disciples by William H. Willimon.)
The curriculum we are using for confirmation is called Making Disciples, which teams an adult disciple of the church as mentor with each confirmand. Seven young adults and their mentors are two months into in this process … Braden and Briana Capek, Ashley and Sophia Gilliam, Cameran Jansky, Cade Kresak, and Becca Krupicka are teamed with Dan and JoAnn Vavra, Carol Capek, Traci Zelenka, Adrienne Capek, and Mary Johnson.
Would you join me in praying for them as they continue the next four months to explore their beliefs and journeys with Christ? They will need the support of all of us to do the important work ahead of them. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful. In the Lord, I will rejoice. Look to God, do not be afraid. Lift up your voices, the Lord is near. Lift up your voices, the Lord is near. …
The first time I heard this song was when I entered seminary in September, 2005. At Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, it was sung every noon, Tuesday through Thursday, before one from our community led us in prayer over our community meal. For one semester, or maybe it was the whole year, In the Lord became our anchoring call to prayer before our meal prayer.
For me, In the Lord also became a musical reminder that God is always near. To help me through all of the unknowns and firsts of seminary. And there were many, let me tell you!
It also reminds me, to this day, that there is always reason to be thankful to God. There is always, in every situation or circumstance, something to celebrate. So we should lift our voices in song or prayer with thankfulness.
In you, Lord, I am ever thankful for …
Maybe it has something to do with events in our country of late … the horrific shooting and killing of church family members during worship last Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Or the mass shooting in Las Vegas a month ago. Or the terrorist attack on pedestrians as a pickup is driven into their midst in New York City.
Maybe it’s because our own worship gathering last Sunday set aside time for us to remember, with lighted candles and prayers, those members of our church family who had passed from this life into the next life. Joining that great cloud of witnesses.
I’ve found myself thinking more this week about the past than about the present. In particular, I’ve been thinking about people who have been witnesses to my own faith. Sunday School and Bible school teachers. Bible study partners. Prayer partners. Youth group leaders. Pastors. Seminary professors and colleagues. As you might expect.
These I know by name. I remember their faces. Sometimes even particular words spoken. We have history together.
But there are others as well. People I do not know by name. Sometimes I don’t even recall enough physical features to be able to describe them to you. But I remember vividly our encounter. And their words. When God saw to it that our paths would cross. At a particular time. In a particular place. For a particular reason.
In the process, I’ve been thinking less about the scriptures for this week. But as I attempt to do so again today, I find that, interestingly, they are connected with what we’ve been pondering here. Being a witness by serving God. Putting our hope in God. Encouraging one another. Preparing to meet the Lord.
Gracious God, thank you for sending ordinary people into our lives. To be people of faith to one another. To remind ourselves and each other of the hope that we have in you. To encourage each other as we grow in faith. Amen. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Our Deepest Fear
--by Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who I am to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing it small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking, so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Loving God, on this All Saints Sunday, we remember and give you thanks for those who have shined their light, the light of Christ, into our lives so we would know also that we are your children. May we shine the light of Christ into the lives of all your precious children. Amen.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat